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Referral from Partner (McKinsey)

BCG McKinsey partnerreferral Recruiter Referral
Recent activity on May 24, 2020
5 Answers
3.4 k Views
Anonymous A asked on May 22, 2020

Hello Everybody,

I have a call scheduled with a Partner who is working in McKinsey for more than 11 years.

1) What should be my approach as I want him to refer me. Obviously, I will not directly ask for a referral. I will build a conversation around digital and analytics as he is specialised in that and then I will move forward to other topics. Could you please suggest me what questions should I ask or what should be my approach?

2) I do not want to work in the office in which he is working. I would like to apply in other locations such as UK, Canada, Singapore etc. Will he refer me knowing that I would like to apply in different location, if yes what impact does it have on the office I would like to join.

Looking forward to your advice.


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Content Creator
replied on May 22, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut



  1. I agree with your approach overal: you should try to get the conversation into a knowing each other direction, not something transactional. The partner knows perfectly that a referral is what you are after, so there is no need at all to ask for it. It will come as something natural if the conversation goes well.
  2. No problem at all. It´s quite usual, I would even say it´s the most usual thing to get referred by someone who is not in the office -at the end, these are global firms with a wide footprint-. I know about many successful referrals from people from other offices

Hope it helps!



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Content Creator
updated an answer on May 23, 2020
Top rated Case & PEI coach/Multiple real offers/McKinsey EM in New York /6 years McKinsey recruiting experience


A referral is best when it comes from soneone with whom you have a relationship or something in common that lets them refer you easily. For example, people that have gone to your high school are likely to refer you because you share that common facet and they trust you based on it (similar with college, friends of family etc.). If you don't have this, you need to invest time and energy building it. What this means is as follows:

1. During the call aside from other topics, express your interest in working at McK and ask him what are things you can do to be a good candidate. Write these things down somewhere

2. Email him every 3 weeks to update on progress on those areas he pointed out, and also set up a follow up call in 2 months or so.

3. After 2-3 months of updating him and asking for his advice - assuming you have made actual progress you should ask him if he is comfortable referring you given the progress you have made or if there is something else he would like you to work on

Continue working on yourself and building this relationship until you feel you have earned their trust for a referral. It is long but it works well as people want to feel invested in your success

As for office - Ideally you want to stick to the office he is in because that is where he has most influence. Of course he can refer you to other offices but it won't be the same

All the best,



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Content Creator
replied on May 22, 2020
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Hi there,

1) Correct, definitely don't directly ask for the referral :).

It sounds like, in general you have the right approach. It's hard to tell you "ask x question". Rather, you need to show that you're engaged, inquisitive, insightful, and curious. Your questions should combine what he's saying with insights/knowledge of your own, to then form new hypotheses/questions. Ideally you even prompt his thinking/reflection a bit as well. Basically, your questions/discussion are actually an opportunity for you to show him how you think.

2) Read the situation. If he sounds keen to have you in his office specifically, it's a bit tough. However, if you can tell him you're actually very interested in x office for x reason. Maybe he'll offer to put you in touch. The best way to do this is to ask if he can tell you anything more about the office etc.

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Anonymous replied on May 23, 2020

Hi there,

1) You are right that you should not directly ask. You need to take the time and effort to build a relationship first. Udayan has given a very detailed approach that you can follow. Only when you have a solid relationship and the partner is both comfortable and interested in helping you on your career, then you can ask for referral.

2) Once you pass the first hurdle above, it is totally okay to ask for referral in a different location. If he is interested in helping you, he wouldn't mind. (You might need to give him heads up beforehand though so you don't catch him by surprise. Manage expectation.) I had a referral from a Partner transitioning from London to Australia, while he referred me for Southeast Asia office. So it can work cross office.



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Content Creator
replied on May 24, 2020
McKinsey offers w/o final round interviews - 100% risk-free - 10+ years MBB coaching experience - Multiple book author

Hi Anonymous,

Congratulations to having your foot already in the door with the call scheduled!

ad 1) There is no one single set of questions to ask to finally earn a referral. However, I am not sure if it's a realistic expectation that you will get his referral immediately in that one phone call - I'd rather look a it as the starting point for a process.

In any case, be prepared and check McKinsey activities around the topic of your specialization. A 'good' way to show your interest in the firm is thinking and highlighting ideas (in a structured way) on what you could potentially contribute to the firm.

At the same time, try to inquire key criteria from the partner when it comes to hiring persons like you, and make sure you keep tidy notes on that, so that you can follow-up on those items periodically.

If that process goes well, you will finally get some visible sign that your partner is ready to refer you.

ad 2) No worries about that - absolutely standard situation.

Hope that helps - if so, please be so kind and give it a thumbs-up with the green upvote button below!


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